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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Bio-oils Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #362186

Research Project: Value-added Bio-oil Products and Processes

Location: Bio-oils Research

Title: Vegetable oils in lubrication

Author
item Biresaw, Girma

Submitted to: Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fats Products
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/2/2019
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: This book chapter reviews the dominant role of vegetable oils in the biobased lubricant sector of the global lubricant market.Vegetable oils and their derivatives are commercially used in lubricant formulations as both base oils and additives. Vegetable oils are applied in lubrication in various forms: directly as base oils in the presence of additives (e.g., antioxidant additives) and/or petroleum base oils such as polyalphaolefins; as base oils or additives after appropriate chemical modifications (e.g., epoxidation); indirectly as base oils and additives after conversion to fatty acids (FAs), fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs), and derivatives of FAs and FAMEs; indirectly as base oils with renewable carbon after undergoing thorough deoxygenation, isomerization and other processes in a biorefinery. Increased application of vegetable oils in lubrication requires overcoming the current cost disadvantage relative to petroleum-based products through improved performance. Vegetable oil-based lubricants have superior environmental and health properties which makes them preferred products for complying to global environmental rules and regulations.

Technical Abstract: A comprehensive and up-to-date review of vegetable oil applications in lubrication is provided. Vegetable oils and their derivatives are commercially used in lubricant formulations as both base oils and additives. They are a major player in the growing biobased lubricant market because they provide a wide range of benefits, including superior environmental and health properties. Vegetable oils are applied in lubrication in various forms. In the past, vegetable oils have been used directly as base oils in the presence of a variety of additives (e.g., antioxidants), or blended with petroleum base oils such as polyalphaolefins, to enhance their performance. Vegetable oils are also used in lubrication after undergoing chemical, thermal or enzymatic modifications to enhance their performance. Examples of such commercial products include epoxidized, heat-bodied and blown vegetable oils. More recently, vegetable oils are used to produce fatty acids (FAs) and fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) which are used in lubrication directly or after further modifications. Examples of such products include estolides, epoxidized FAMEs and phosphonated FAMEs. In the latest applications, vegetable oils are used to produce base oils with renewable carbon via various biorefinery processes, where the vegetable oil or their FAs or FAMEs are subjected to deoxygenation, isomerization, and other processes. These products have similar structure as petroleum base oils and can be used as “drop in” components with renewable carbon. As a result, they can be used to partially replace petroleum base oils and enhance the bio-content of petroleum-based formulations to meet regulatory and environmental requirements without affecting performance. Such application of vegetable oils has a big market potential, since petroleum-based lubricant formulations are extremely affordable and account for > 98% of the current global lubricant market.